Where To Eat In Napa Valley
Located in California, Napa County is nestled just north of San Pablo Bay, and is renowned for its wine industry that is growing in popularity to the ranks of the wine regions of France. It is a place rich in history, dating back to the mid 1800s.
Not too long ago, they were over 140 wineries, some of which are still in existence today, however, two notable setbacks, including the 1920 prohibition and the phylloxera root louse infestation, led to the closure of many wineries. Others took advantage of the situation and simply sold grapes to immigrants who made their own wine at home.
It was only after the second World War that the wine industry in Napa Valley experienced new growth. Currently, there are over 400 wineries in the area, producing some of the greatest wines around in all the world.
Wine-making is probably responsible, at least partially, for Napa Valley becoming quite the tourist destination, drawing over 5 million visitors annually. The county also plays host to several cultural events at different times of the year, boosting tourism and helping to nurture its economy.
Thanks to the County Fair, the Napa Valley Mustard Festival, and the Napa Valley Wine Auction, local businesses have managed to increase tourism even in the quieter months of the year. Another popular event, the annual Festival del Sole, created in 2006, quickly became popular for the art, music, and food held at various locations in the Valley.
Napa Valley is divided into five regions consisting of St. Helena, Yountville, Oakville/Rutherford, Calistoga, and Napa, which all make up an area of 788 square miles. Because it is so vast, it is important to know which areas to visit on any given day to get the most out of your trip.
Most wineries will provide a tour, charging a fee, but allowing for free wine tasting. Many of these wineries also have restaurants where you can enjoy a wide variety of cuisines while enjoying interesting vintages.
One thing is for sure, you certainly won’t have a problem finding a restaurant in the area. Whether you prefer a sophisticated atmosphere, or an affordable family-oriented eatery, it will be an easy task.
For a family-friendly Italian restaurant, in a relaxed setting, try Cafe Citti, which is open for business every day, but closed between 3:30 and 5:00 in the afternoons. You can enjoy a variety of pasta, salads, desserts, and much more. It’s a perfect place for families, especially at lunchtime, as they serve pizza and sandwiches.
Located in St. Helena, Terra is the essence of sophisticated dining. The beautifully decorated restaurant features dark wood, stone walls, and an exceptional view of its gardens. Terra is famous for many dishes, and has an impressive menu with a good selection of appetizers and entrees. Reservations in advance are recommended.
Bistro Don Giovanni
Enjoy delicious dishes of Californian-Italian cuisine in this beautiful Napa restaurant that boasts a warm and inviting decor. Adorned with hanging copper pots and a wood burning oven, all your senses will be thrilled as you watch your meals be cooked in the open kitchen.
It welcomes families, providing a great menu for children, which includes favorites like pizza and french fries. For the adults, they prepare Italian-style fennel, shrimp, fish, calamari, among many other exciting dishes.
If you’re in the market for steak, hamburger, ribs, and other American favorites that your kids would love, drop by Mustards Grill. They’re open everyday, and the atmosphere is very friendly. Their large kids menu is perfect for satisfying even the pickiest eaters.
Located in Napa, in the heart of a shopping mall, this restaurant goes beyond the typical barbecue shack to please both the eyes and the palate. Decorated in a modern design scheme, with brushed aluminum chairs and a myriad of black-and-white photography hung on the wall, patrons can enjoy delicious American and Southern dishes, such as pulled pork sandwiches, Memphis-style, smoked baby back ribs, fried chicken and more.
All Seasons Bistro
For an affordable American meal with a bistro spin, the All Seasons Bistro in Calistoga won’t disappoint. It has an impressive menu that includes duck, risotto, and much more as main dishes. Their mouthwatering desserts go beyond the norm, so be sure to leave some extra room. With flowers resting on each table, and the sun spilling inside, it makes this spot warm and inviting.
This modern restaurant is all about comfort and a classic American cuisine that has been spruced up by the owner and chef, Eduardo Martinez. Indulge in fried chicken and jalapeno cornbread, or make your way out there or for Sunday brunch, which is extremely popular. St. Helena locals are frequently seen lining up outside on weekends.
The Fig Cafe
While many believe that French restaurants are only for adults, the Fig Cafe is open to everyone, and it aims at satisfying every age group. Along with its exceptional French cuisine, it also offers regular American food, like burgers, sandwiches, pizza, and the like. Enjoy brunch or dinner every weekday, with or without reservations.
The French Laundry
This restaurant in Yountville, having been awarded with three Michelin stars, has subtle traces of the French countryside to give patrons a more exciting setting. The “prix fixe” six-course tasting menus change everyday. Some ingredients in chef Thomas Keller’s past menus include filet of Pacific Moi, artichokes, truffles, and spring lamb, to name a few, all cooked to perfection, and often accompanied by the chef’s own wines. Be sure to make reservations as far as two months in advance, and men should be prepared to wear a jacket.
Another excellent French restaurant, located in Healdsburg, aims to please in every sense of the word. The decor is elegant, the staff is friendly and attentive, and the cuisine is extraordinary. With two Michelin stars under its belt, chef Douglas Keane has created an incredible tasting menu that is comparable to that of The French Laundry, but for a fraction of the cost.
Plus, the chef often sends out bonus dishes as an accompaniment. In addition to the many tasteful dishes, customers can also choose from the champagne and caviar cart, the cheese cart or the truffle humidor. It is strongly recommended to make reservations.
La Casa Restaurant
Mexican cuisine is very well represented at La Casa Restaurant in a comfortable setting. They have a wide selection of Mexican food, and also offer some American favorites, such as sandwiches and burgers. Open every day, you are sure to find tasty dishes that will titillate the senses.
Morimoto Napa is one of Masuharu Morimoto’s treasures. The Iron Chef star is responsible for the elaborate concoctions served at this upscale restaurant, such as the sea urchin carbonara. The downtown Napa restaurant is usually quite busy, but don’t walk away if it seems full. You can still enjoy some dishes in the lounge, which is frequented by a younger crowd wanting specialty cocktails and appetizers.
Glen Ellen Inn Oyster Grill & Martini Bar
This restaurant, located in Glen Ellen, is the epitome of coziness. The beautifully decorated 1940s cottage is nestled by a creek that boasts shady gardens and a beautiful patio. Oysters are the specialty on the menu, as well as a fusion of ingredients typically used in French, California and, Asian for an unusual taste.
No matter where you may find yourself in Napa Valley, there will not be a shortage of eateries or restaurants to pick from, regardless of budget, or the size of your party. The list above includes a variety of places and cuisines, whether you’re in the mood for homegrown flavors, or those that come from far away.
The important thing is to experience Napa Valley according to your own needs, and that might mean planning ahead enough to make reservations at those special restaurants you’d like to try. If you prefer being spontaneous, then you have lots of options. One thing is for sure, and that is that Napa Valley is synonymous with food, from adventurous food trucks to Michelin Star rated establishments.